HANOI, VIETNAM -- Here in this former enemy capital, the government of The Socialist Republic of Vietnam operates a museum full of mementoes from the only war America ever fought in which U.S. troops won every battle -- but still lost the war. Among displays of captured U.S. military equipment, parts of shot-down aircraft and expended munitions are exhibits devoted to the American anti-war movement. The carping coterie of retired generals now blasting the war effort in Iraq -- and demanding Donald Rumsfeld's head -- ought to spend a few hours here before firing another salvo. It might make the tarnished brass hats think twice about whether their words aid and abet America's adversaries in the Global War on Terror.
"We went to war with a flawed plan that didn't account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime. We also served under a secretary of defense who didn't understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant, who didn't build a strong team," said retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste. His sentiments are echoed by two other retired Army two-stars, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack.
"My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, perhaps forgetting that the defense secretary served as a Navy fighter pilot. Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs accused the White House and Pentagon of seeking military advice only "when it satisfies their agenda." Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command said, "Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission."
Set aside for a moment that these are all men who helped plan various aspects of the war they now say was poorly planned. With the exception of Zinni, who served as CENTCOM commander during the Clinton administration, they all accepted promotions to "serve" under Commander in Chief Bush and helped carry out a plan they now claim to be irreparably flawed. If the jawing generals felt then as they say they do now -- why didn't they just quit -- before their promotions and pay raises?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.